It was slightly more than 20 years ago. A delightful summer afternoon, ironically this memory includes me mowing the lawn. Ironic because I because I mow lawns for a living in the summer. My friend John is walking by. I stop what I’m doing to visit. He tells me about a new type of treatment program that is solely based on the spiritual principles found in the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point, having a little more than 2 years of continuous sobriety/clean time. I thought, boy I sure wish I could go there.
Well little did I know at that time, what the mighty Jester of the Cosmos had written in the book of my life. On November 16th, 1998 I entered the program at The Retreat.
The first thing that hit me was, during a Big Book study with Roger B. He says. “I hope you’re DONE and not just here to take a break.” Woah, just woah. Yes, I’m so done. The next thing was again Roger B. “Are you willing to believe in the possibility?” That a Higher Power could restore me to sanity. Yes! That would be the beginning of an intention to improve my conscious contact with God “as I understand God” which is impossible to comprehend. The basis of which is how I am willing to carry on without chemicals.
Fast forward to today. I have discovered the enlightened self-interest of, and the key to staying sober is helping others to recover. Wait, how can I help? What do I have to offer? Well as it turns out I have my experience. Which through sharing that, I am able to stay in recovery from addiction. I have found something else even more valuable than my experience. It is worth more than any material or financial commodity. It costs nothing but requires an immense amount of energy if offered with intention.
The most valuable thing is My Attention
Giving freely of my attention is the most generous thing I can do. With attention I discover understanding and that is what I get in return.
And boy, do I have some. Astronomical in size comes to mind. What brought this on? One might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. If you have been following along, you know of my desire to help. Well, it has become painfully apparent that I can do more.
Through reading blogs, scripture, news and so on. The question arises, what have you done for “the least of mine”. Not a lot I must admit. Lately, though I have given some dollars to those requesting “anything helps” at intersections.
I had, in the past, thought that these people were actually just doing this for their job and that they probably made more money than I do. Upon reflection, I found within that this was devoid of compassion.
Another area in my sorted life, where I find room for improvement is in refraining from the judgment of others. This has been brought about reading from Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island “If we are to love sincerely, and with simplicity…We must somehow strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves, frankly recognize in how many ways we are unlovable, descend into the depths of our being until we come to the basic reality that is in us, and learn to see that we are lovable after all in spite of everything”, and that we are loved precisely because of our flaws.
As I emerge from the other side, I am better able to love, any and all. And, most important understand.
The sun beating down brightly, as I am focused on the task at hand. Earbuds blasting from the playlist. The hum of the mower’s engine is evident through my body. And yet I remain aware of my surroundings. Yesterday I was working and an unusually large and overgrown lawn when I sensed something. I turned, and there she was scouting what I think is the location of her den.
She was trotting through where I had previously worked stopped looked at me then carried on. I guess I have adapted to my loss of hearing sense (earbuds) and pick up on other queues. I am glad I was able to capture the moment. The toad population is great this year.
I don’t even want to think of what happens to these creatures if pass over them.
I observe all kinds of things and I saw the first snake I have ever witnessed in Minnesota. Scared the crap out of me at first, then I tried to take a picture but it found cover quickly. It was a gartter snake. Do you find thistles as beautiful as I do?
These and so much more to fill my being with wonder at how much life there is beyond our immediate perception.
And by Hold On I mean Let Go!, well loosen your grip just a little. Life sends us little messages in the form of how we feel or what we anticipate we’ll experience. If my experience is any indication, the more my ego is involved in the results, or if I have expectations about the desired outcome, the more self-centered fear plays its role in my emotional well-being, at the moment. In fact, I will have lost touch with now.
Another aspect of experience came to light and it fits perfectly with how, when I do experience irritation or negative feelings. I allow myself to experience them fully and let them pass, instead of doing something to be rid of them. An amazingly talented writer intimated this perfectly in this piece fitfulfearfulphantasmal.wordpress.com/…/hurry-up-and-hurt-me
This is how I view uncomfortable situations and feelings today. Let me have it because my pain is a gateway to growth and character.